You Asked for It

Since I’m studying art anatomy, of course the topic of skulls has come up in conversation. Sorry to say, I haven’t gotten around to drawing any skulls recently. I’m still working on arm bones, you know.

That’s not to say that I haven’t drawn skulls in the past. I certainly have!

My favorite holiday is Halloween, and every year we throw quite a party for the kids and grandkids. Last year, I’d just begun working with charcoal as Halloween approached. Oh, yes, drawing skulls would be so much fun! I couldn’t wait to show them off to the little ones.

Silly SkullsMy first skulls weren’t too scary as this page from my sketchbook shows. They were fun to draw, of course.

One of the biggest problems I had when I started drawing with charcoal was that I found I was very heavy-handed.

Actually it was the same with graphite when I first began learning. Using charcoal, of course, only made the problem much more obvious, as this second skull drawing shows.

Skull 3

A little scarier? Well, maybe. The really scary part, though, was the awful mess I made with the charcoal.

I’m happy to say that in time, I did get better. I learned to apply both graphite and charcoal with a lighter touch.

But, back to skulls. I still wasn’t satisfied with what I’d drawn, so I kept at it and drew another skull.

Now, my skulls were getting a little scarier. I was pleased to see that I was making some progress.

Another skullI was doing these drawings in my smallΒ 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inch sketchbook. Even with that size, I didn’t often devote an entire page to a single drawing. Usually I just sketched the same thing over and over on the page. I wasn’t much of an artist yet. I wasn’t really drawing, you see. I was just learning to draw.

It was around this time though, that I begin seeing definite improvement. With a little determination, I could draw something — like a skull — that looked like it was supposed to. My drawings have never been totally realistic, but I’d moved beyond the rudimentary stage where most of my attempts looked like cartoon figures or drawings made by a six-year-old.

I’d just gotten a brand new sketchbook — 9 x 12 — especially for charcoal. It’s was one of Strathmore’s Toned Gray sketchbooks.

Yeah, I went for it. I created what was at that time my largest drawing ever. Despite the gruesome subject, I was very proud of this skull.

Charcoal Skull

If you look closely, you’ll see that I even signed this drawing down there in the lower right corner. That was another first. And yes, it was fun to have this hanging on the wall at Halloween.

Speaking of which…the holiday is only four months away. I know, that sounds like a long time, but my husband is already talking about our annual party and what we’ll do this year. Maybe we’ll have a skeleton theme. Lots of bones. Lots of skulls.

I just might be able to draw a few. Being an artist is lots of fun, especially when it comes to Halloween!


  1. The progression of your skull drawing is great! I love that most recent one! Oh…and I love Halloween too. It’s my birthday!!! I grew up in Australia and Halloween wasn’t really celebrated. I always felt disappointed by that. But there is much more of a celebration in the UK, and it’s Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night a few days later, so not only do I tend to get lots of scary stuff for my birthday but lots of fireworks too! :-))

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    1. I was born on Thanksgiving day — a big American holiday — so you’d think that would be my favorite. Nope. Halloween, all the way. None of those skulls are recent ones, by the way. They were all done last October. I’m looking forward to doing new — and hopefully improved — skulls this year.

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      1. No, we just call them all the “Spideys”… and the animated Grim Reaper, of course, is “Grimmie.” When we make scarecrows, they also get names. The last one was Jack.

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  2. I love to see the evolution of your skills. Good job lady! I bet those were fun to draw. In two years you’ll be all…well, I have moved on from oil painting and am now starting to sculpt. This is my skeleton complete with moving joints I just whipped up for the Halloween party.

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  3. I love love love your skull, Judith! Woot! Woot! Woot! A fan of the weird, out of this world, outrageous, bloody, big eyed creepy monsters here. So, yeah, a skull is just up my alley. More please!

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  4. you are moving right along! I love skulls and drawing them….charcoal has always been my personal favorite because of the “heavy handiness” but I like bold and strong. That skull is fantastic and the more you will draw, the better! realistic is realistic but when you draw with feeling and determination, I am after that rather than something totally photo realistic. Keep on with your anatomy drawing, it will pay off in the long run.

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  5. Ahh… one of my favorite things to draw. I remember back in high school my notebooks were filled with drawings of skulls. I don’t think it’s morbid at all. In fact, if you look at a skull, it’s actually quite a funny looking thing.

    I love all your skull drawings, but I I find the first one the most appealing, especially the guy at the upper right corner. He reminds me of Jack the Pumpkin King, one of my all-time favorite movie characters.

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    1. I figured you’d like the skulls. πŸ™‚ Just like with the rest of anatomy, I think learning to draw skulls gives an artist a good foundation for drawing facial features. And, yeah, they are kinda fun to draw really. I’m going to have lots of fun with Halloween this year. Do you celebrate the holiday there?

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      1. Yes, we have Halloween here, too. It’s my favorite holiday, actually. I get to wear my costume and go around scaring people in our neighborhood. I give them candy afterwards lol!

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